Affiliate Disclaimer: Whenever possible, I link out to sites with affiliate links because I practice what we preach! However, I will never ever write about, or link to a crappy product or service I don't believe in just for a commission.
This is a list of tools I, or one of my friends, use daily to run 6 and 7 figure online businesses. We have spent thousands of hours testing themes, plugins, autoresponders and just about every other tool you can think of in the Internet marketing space.
My goal with this page is to save you from using substandard services (been there done that!)
CAUTION:The tools listed below are all awesome and will help you supercharge your earnings. Many of you will want to launch into a downloading frenzy and try them all out immediately. PLEASE DO NOT go downloading or purchasing these tools willy-nilly, wait until your business requires the tool, then get it. Do not get distracted by shiny object syndrome!
WEB HOSTING & DOMAIN REGISTRATION
If you want to start a website you will need to register a domain name and rent a server to host your website. This is the base of your online business but don't worry, it's also very cheap. Our recommended services are not necessarily the cheapest but they are the best value for money.
NameCheap – (One Registrar to Rule Them ALL!)
Need to buy a domain name? Namecheap is my #1 registrar. There is really no need to shop around on this one. I use them to buy all my domains and you should too! Their prices are about the cheapest you can find and they also happen to be one of the most reliable registrars online.
Bluehost (Cheap & Reliable)
BlueHost is the perfect starting point for every new online entrepreneur. They are one of the most popular hosting companies online for a reason; they offer outstanding support, a super easy user dashboard and ‘one-click’ WordPress installation that will have your new website up and running in no time at all.
I highly recommend using Bluehost for your first website, and you can get started for just $2.95 a month.
Siteground (Best “Cheap” Hosting)
A couple of my Internet marketing friends love Siteground so I felt I should include them in this list. I must confess that I have never used Siteground, but the general consensus is that they have slightly better security and support than Bluehost. I can't vouch for that as in my 8 years of using Bluehost I have NEVER had any problems and have NEVER had to contact support.
Kinsta (Super Fast & Reliable)
Kinsta is the best managed hosting solution on the market. All of the marketers I respect the most use them so when it came time to upgrade my sites to WordPress Hosting, Kinsta was a no-brainer for me.
These guys specialize in WordPress hosting and will make sure your website run as fast as possible. Highly recommend if you are looking for a premium solution for your important websites.
Liquidweb (For High Traffic Sites)
I have a dedicated server with LiquidWeb and they are an outstanding host. They provide excellent reliability and Heroic customer support. They aren't the cheapest in town – but they are the best. I have the cheapest plan ($200/month) and I host about 50 sites on my server, including this one, with no problems.
If you are just starting your online career you probably won't need a VPS right out of the gate, but when you are ready to step up, you should choose Liquidweb.
Once you have your WordPress site up, you need a theme and framework that will allow you to do things like collect emails, format your content and overall make your site do what you want and look pro. Here are some of my favorite themes:
Generatepress is a top tier free theme that does what you need it to do in a world where page builders are slowly taking over site design duties.
It’s simple to use, it’s lightweight, it’s code is clean, and offers a lot of customization possibilities.
The pad version comes with some awesome “Starter Sites” that you can use to build a super slick looking website in one click.
WPAstra – Freemium
Very much like Generatepress, WPAstra is a clean theme that works very well with page builders and does a great job.
The performance is equally excellent and they have a good selection of demo sites to import if you want a starting point for your new site.
Genesis is an outstanding WordPress theme framework from StudioPress. You can use Genesis as a standalone theme or use one of the many child themes available. These are some of the most popular themes at the moment because once you learn the system you can make your site look however your little heart desires. It’s fast, flexible and highly customizable. I'm using a Genesis child theme on this site called Showcase Pro.
Check out the Genesis Framework.
A Couple Other Note-Worthy Themes
Restored316 Themes – If you're creating a site for women, such as a Mommy Blog or Fashion/Makeup site, then Restored316 themes would be a great choice. Their themes are Genesis child themes, which means you would first have to purchase the genesis framework (up above).
BIMBER – I love this theme and use it on a couple of my Viral content sites. It has so many genius features built in I can't believe more people aren't using it!
WordPress plugins allow you to add a great range of functionalities to your site, they’re easy to install in just a few clicks and can save you a lot of money in development costs. Here are the main ones I use:
Elementor PRO (Freemium)
WP Rocket Caching Plugin
Caching creates an ultra-fast load time, essential for improving Search Engine Optimization and increasing conversions. When you turn on WP Rocket, page caching is immediately activated.
Simple to configure but with no lack of features, this caching plugin is the best on the market.
Rank Math SEO Plugin (FREE)
FREE WordPress plugin for writing SEO-friendly content and ranking higher in search engines
Rank Math SEO plugin helps YOU optimize your content for search engines and outrank your competitors.
Rank Math is the new kid on the block and in my opinion is better than the old stand-bys (Yoast & All-In-One SEO). I have been converting my money sites over to Rank Math and so far have not found any issues.
I wouldn't bother to mention some run-of-the-bill forms plug-in, but Gravity Forms is much more than that. Put simple, this is the most robust forms plug-in for WordPress. Truly enterprise level. It goes way beyond simple contact forms. It integrates with everything.
Unlock unlimited for possibilities (without code) on WordPress with this fantastic plugin. Wether you want to do surveys, advanced order forms, conditional forms or plug it into any other service or payment gateway, Gravity forms can do it.
Content.ad Related Content Widget – This is my favorite related content plugin. It’s free. Be sure to select 0% for displaying sponsored links (unless you want to display sponsored ads).
Table of Contents Plus plugin – Creates great tables of contents for posts and pages.
Ad Inserter Plugin – I use this on several sites. It’s the best ad management plugin I’ve used.
Social Warfare – A great social media plug-in for WordPress. Powers the buttons, of course. But, also allows you to tweak how every piece of content looks on social media. Also makes tweetable quotes easy.
SumoMe – This is the only plugin you’ll need for social sharing. I especially like the social sharing hover buttons you can activate over images.
Monarch Plugin – While I love SumoMe for image sharing, when image sharing isn’t important, I prefer Monarch social sharing buttons.
WP Review – This is by far the best review plugin I’ve used. It’s easy to use, creates beautiful review charts and you have the option to let visitors rate in the comments.
Pretty Link Lite – Similar to Thirsty Affiliates plugin, Pretty Link Lite allows you to make you ugly affiliate links look pretty. I use the Pro version on some of my biggest sites, including this one. Click on any affiliate link and you can see the plugin in action.
WordfFence – Secure your wordpress site from hackers. I have this plugin on ALL my sites.
WP-Optimize – Keeps your database clean and fast. If your site seems slow you may want to install and run this plugin once a month.
W3 Total Cache -Speed up your site load times and lower your bounce rate.
WP Viral Quiz – I use this plugin for the quiz on this site.
Genesis Specific Plugins: If you decide to use the Genesis Theme Framework you should immediate load the following Plugins (you can thank me later):
If you are serious about build a thriving online business, you MUST build an email list. This is by far the best decision I’ve made online. Email has more users than Facebook and a higher reach than any other medium. Plus, it's owned by you, not by a social network or anyone that can decide to shut you down or change the rules. Here are the tools I use for email marketing:
CONVERTKIT – (FROM $29/MONTH)
I have used all of the most popular and well-known email providers throughout my online career. ConvertKit blows them all away. This brilliant email marketing and automation service is hands-down my #1 choice for anyone looking to build a responsive email list (a must-do activity for all online entrepreneurs).
ConvertKit makes managing your email list and setting up autoresponders so easy and user-friendly. Their support is amazing and you’ll get a month for FREE, with this link!
GETRESPONSE – (FROM $15/MONTH)
If you don't want to shell out the money for Convertkit right away then you may want to try Getresponse instead. It's an affordable and powerful email marketing solution that is packed with incredible features. I use GetResponse on my lists that don't require extensive automation or segmenting and it works flawlessly. They offer a 30-day free trial.
AWEBER – (FROM $19/MONTH)
This is another popular email marketing tool. I used Aweber for years to build my lists but in my opinion they have not kept up with their competitors. GetResponse is around the same price and offers more options and a much better user interface.
Active Campaign – (from $17/month)
I use Active campaign for my email lists that require complex automations (I use it for the quiz on this site). If I'm doing simple stuff like moving subscribers from one list to another I default to ConvertKit.
If you want to massively increase the amount of email signups from your website you should really consider getting a subscription to OptinMonster. You can use it to easily create popups, sidebars optin forms, flyins, end of post optin forms, and more. The exit intent technology is amazing and easy to set up.
Plans start at only $9.00 a month but that plan is pretty useless. To get the full power of the tool you will need to spend $29.00 a month.
If you want to massively increase the amount of email signups from your website you should really consider getting a subscription to OptinMonster. You can use it to easily create popups, sidebars optin forms, flyins, end of post optin forms, and more.
The exit intent technology is amazing and easy to set up. Plans start at only $9.00 a month but that plan is pretty useless. To get the full power of the tool you will need to spend $29.00 a month.
LANDING PAGE CREATION
Thrive Landing Pages is by far my favorite tool for creating high-quality landing pages quickly and easily.
Thrive Leads is part of the Thrive Themes family of products. It is brilliant technology with so many bells and whistles it will make your head spin. There are a few competitors for each of these features, but nobody has everything all in one box.
LeadPages is another great landing page tool which you will find most of the Big Dogs of internet marketing using. It is super easy to use and you can put a landing page up literally in minutes. The downside is that it is pretty inflexible. The landing page templates are all very slick, and extensively tested to optimize conversions, but if you want to make change to one it is a major pain in the ass.
LeadPages is a cloud hosted solution, which means if you stop paying, you lose all your landing pages. This (and several other annoyances) are one of the reasons I have started moving my landing pages to sites using the Thrive Landing Page plugin instead.
SEMRUSH – (FROM $69.95/MONTH)
This is my favorite SEO tool and it has become the cornerstone of all my keyword research. SEMRush allows you to find all your competitors best keywords with the click of a button. My favorite feature is using it to see which keywords my own websites are ranking for in the top 20 spots in Google search. I can then choose valuable keywords to work on improving rankings. It’s often easier to improve rankings for keywords you already ranking for than starting from scratch.
The tool is kinda expensive so I usually just sign up for a month or 2 at a time, do a big batch of keyword research, and then cancel my subscription until I need it again.
Running an online business involves managing a lot of moving parts. If you don’t have efficient systems and delegation in place, you are going to drown under the tasks. Here is what we use to keep ourselves on check:
TRELLO – (FREE)
Trello is a great way to organise your team tasks and work with others, assign tasks, create todo lists and more. It’s particularly useful to manage recurring tasks that have a specific workflow. It also interfaces with Asana, Slack, Dropbox, Google drive, and any cloud service you will ever use.
EVERNOTE – (FREE)
Take notes, capture web pages, capture images, organise your notes and access them from anywhere for free. There is a reason why Evernote is worth more than the New York Times itself. Great note collector that can help you become super productive. Available on the web, iPad, iPhone and everywhere else where you need to make a note, clip something to read later and then move on. I love this thing.
DROPBOX – (FREE)
If you want to be an internet marketer chances are you will eventually need a Dropbox account. Dropbox is a free service that allows you to easily backup and share your documents, videos, and photos between multiple devices. It's a great tool for sharing files with VAs and other team members.
Skype is one of my most used tools. Not only do I meet with my team in a chat room daily, but I make dirt-cheap long distance phone calls form my computer and handset. I have a “skype-in” phone number (about 30 bucks a year) that is a California based phone number (thus no long distance fees for my colleagues and family) that routes phone calls to my computer.
LastPass – I use this to store all my passwords and share logins with virtual staff.
Quickbooks Online – OK, I can't claim any love for Intuit. Truthfully, the company is annoying. However, QBO offers the best balance of what I personally need for business accounting, and pricing.
XMind – Mind Mapping software to help you plan blog posts, products, live training or just about anything else you can think of. XMind is my favorite of the many mind mapping tools on the market and the free version has all the functionality you will ever need.
VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE
BASIC VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE
- iMovie (Mac) – Equipped with an array of fantastic and practical video editing features, iMovie is an idea video editing tool for anyone. Comes with every new iMac, it’s free of charge and provides a wide range of effects and tools sets, thus it’s always considered as an essential tool for any Mac user to enhance their vologs.
- Windows Movie Maker (PC) – This is a free and very basic video editor that comes bundled with Windows. It is okay for beginners but as you progress you will really start to feel the limitations.
- YouTube Video Editor (Cloud Based) – This is YouTube’s free web-based video editor. This video editor lacks many features. It can however be useful for a while before the user decides on a better video editor software to purchase.
INTERMEDIATE VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE
- Adobe Premiere Elements 14 (Mac/PC) – As a stripped-down version of Premiere Pro version, Adobe Premiere Elements has just enough features for video bloggers. By making use of automated options, special effects, and in-app guidance, you can easily turn your video clips to fantastic movies. It also supports many third-party plug-ins for additional features.
- Avidemux (Mac/PC/Linux)- Avidemux is another popular free video editing tool. It can handle most of the basic editing tasks such as crop, rotate, combine and cut very well. Tasks can be automated using projects, job queue and powerful scripting capabilities. Besides that, it also stocks a list of filter options perfect for adding those extra finishing touches.
ADVANCED VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE
- Final Cut Pro (Mac) – Final Cut Pro is a sophisticated video editing program. It offers different almost all the video editing features and options you can imagine, such as multi-cam synchronization support, batch sequence capture as well as third-party plug-in support. However, it's one of the most expensive video editing software available on the market. So think twice before you make the final decision.
- Adobe Premier Pro (Mac/PC) – Many vloggers use Adobe Premiere to edit their videos. It’s seen as the industry-leading software for video editing. The clean, intuitive interface means it’s really easy to learn. Set it up with customised keyboard shortcuts to make it faster to use.
- Avid Media Composer (Mac/PC) – Avid Media Composer is designed for advanced users and video enthusiasts. It offers plenty of features such as animatte, 3D warp, paint, live matte key, color correction tool and much more to explore and apply. It has a detailed workflow and editing management for users. Besides, it also offers enhanced software and hardware options to increase the functionality of the program.
SCREEN CAPTURE SOFTWARE
If you want to capture the action on your desktop to video you are going to need screen capture software. Here are my 2 favorites:
Camtasia – The gold standard of screen recording software. Only useful on PC as their MAC version is pure garbage. It's a bit expensive so if you want to start off with a free alternative you can try CamStudio.
ScreenFlow (Mac Only) – If you are a Mac user this is by far the best choice for screen capture software.
Online Courses & Training
The type of business model you choose to pursue will determine which courses you should invest in. But if you can't decide on a business model maybe one of these courses will help inspire you. I have chosen this list based on quality of the content and viability of the business model taught.